Driving a car that all of a sudden accelerates out of control can be a frightening experience. Unfortunately, many drivers have experienced unintended acceleration which often results in a car accident. Whether the car is accelerating at high speeds, or suddenly jolts forward after the car is stopped, passengers and drivers can be injured or even killed due to unintended acceleration.
Sudden unintended acceleration can be caused by a physical obstruction on the gas pedal, mechanical defects, electrical problems, and design defects. Often, the car manufacturer is aware of the defect but may not inform the consumer of the dangerous defect. In some cases, it is only after government regulators investigate the issue and discover that the car company knew about the defect and failed to protect vehicle owners and their families.
Design Defects Causing Unintended Acceleration
As far back as the 1950s, there were reports of unintended acceleration in General Motors vehicles. The company designed the automatic transmission with the reverse position next to the low drive position. Many drivers thinking they were in reverse had unknowingly put the car into low. Hitting the gas would cause the car to lurch forward instead of in reverse, resulting in an accident.
More recently, a number of Toyota and Lexus vehicles were under increased scrutiny as the result of reports of unintended acceleration. Almost 90 people reportedly died, with dozens more injured related to claims that the cars accelerated out of control. Toyota denied that there were any defects that would cause unintended acceleration. Toyota reported their electronic control systems could not fail in a way that would result in sudden, unintended acceleration of the vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the problem but closed it soon after based on a lack of conclusive evidence.
Years later, further investigations found that a piece of trim on the 2004 Toyota Sienna could come loose, which prevented the gas pedal from returning to the closed position. Even though a driver completely took their foot off the pedal, the defective part could leave the gas pedal partially down, causing the vehicle to continue accelerating out of the driver's control.
Later, another investigation found that the electronic control system could cause Toyota vehicles to suddenly accelerate. Not only was Toyota wrong about the electronic control system, but it was found that they had known about the problems, and failed to tell regulators or consumers about the problem. They also continued manufacturing the cars after they knew about the defects. The Department of Justice fined Toyota $1.2 billion in financial penalties for their role.
Other factors that may lead to sudden unintended acceleration includes a floor mat design defect, cruise control malfunction, or an unresponsive accelerator pedal. Whatever the reason, unintended acceleration is a dangerous defect or malfunction that is tied to serious car accidents and multiple deaths.
Unintended Acceleration Accidents
Victims of unintended acceleration in their vehicles may be unable to avoid an accident. There may be nothing they can do when their car accelerates out of control, causing them veer off the road to avoid a crash, or crash directly into another car or stationary object. These accidents can result in anything from a minor fender bender to the deaths of multiple people. It is not only the driver and passenger of the defective vehicle who may be injured, but pedestrians and occupants of other cars may be injured in the accident.
When a car accident involves a claim of unintended acceleration, the other driver, the insurance company, and even the responding police officer may not believe the driver's claim. They may think that it was simple driver's error. In many cases, the driver will relent, thinking they can't fight against the insurance companies without proof that the car accelerated on its own.
Instead of trying to fight with the insurance company, you should contact an experienced automobile accident injury attorney. They will take your claim seriously, investigate the accident, and make sure the insurance company takes your seriously too. They can file a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer or anyone else responsible, so you are compensated for your injuries.
Maryland Vehicle Defect Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one was injured due to unintended acceleration, it is important for the company or individuals responsible to pay for their negligence. Lawsuits involving vehicle defects, design defects and malfunctions can be complex and more complicated than other vehicle accident lawsuits. At Gilman & Bedigian, our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience aggressively pursuing compensation for vehicle malfunction injury victims and their families. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in a car accident in Maryland, please contact our law offices as soon as possible.